• A Cure for Wellness (2016) - Genre potpourri with intellectual depth - 9/10 (03/11/17)

    A Cure for Wellness (2016)

    A Cure of Wellness is one of the best Western movies in recent memory and it's a mystery to me why this film didn't get the attention it deserved. Many people claim that it bombed at the box office. That's not surprising because I was actively trying to watch the movie but it wasn't shown in any of the numerous movie theaters around me, including multiplexes with up to sixteen screens. If the movie isn't even shown at the cinema, it's obvious that nobody can watch it. I even had some trouble getting my hands on the movie once it was released on DVD and BluRay. Most video rental stores had very few copies and local electronics store chains didn't promote the release either. I'm not certain who is responsible for this horrible release strategy but this may have contributed to the fact that this film unjustifiably passed under the radar.

    It certainly can't be so unpopular because of the lack of quality. A Cure for Wellness has numerous things going for it. First of all, the gloomy story is entertaining from start to finish. The few predictable elements are outweighed by a stunning finale that one might not see coming and that you will remember for a very long time. I would even say that the movie's conclusion is nearly on the same surprising level as Oldboy, Shutter Island or The Sixth Sense.

    Secondly, the film has a mysterious atmosphere and is told in a smooth but haunting way. The film is carefully arranged which justifies its epic length of nearly two and a half hours. 

    Thirdly, the locations of the film are absolutely stunning. The movie briefly takes place in the soulless skyscrapers of glass and steel and New York City while the rest of the movie is set in an expensive wellness center in the Swiss Alps. Even though most of the movie was filmed in Germany, the settings look authentic, elegant and haunting as most beautiful spots presented here have something abominable lurking beneath the surface. 

    Fourthly, the movie mixes diverse genres in a creative, diversified and fluid manner. The movie seems to be a psychological thriller but it also includes dramatic and fantastic elements and even adds some minor philosophical elements in the right spots without ever being moralizing. 

    Fifthly, the acting performances are absolutely convincing. Dane DeHaan convinces as ambitious businessman looking for his superior who has gone to a mysterious wellness center. His character looks determined on the outside but feels weakened inside as he slowly realizes that greed and money have replaced his family and friends. The main protagonists and antagonists and even the side characters are so interesting that one is always longing for more details and information about them.

    This movie is often compared to the brilliant Shutter Island and this is especially true for the mysterious atmosphere, isolated landscapes and sinister plot elements. However, A Cure for Wellness is unique enough to convince due to the smartly employed dramatic elements that portray a set of flawed, haunted and mysterious characters and the shift towards fantastic genre elements in the last quarter of the movie. Shutter Island might have a cleverer twist than A Cure for Wellness but from every other point of view, these two movies are equally strong. That's why I can't understand why Shutter Island rightfully received all the praise it deserved while A Cure for Wellness is overall under-appreciated. If you would like to discover a psychological thriller with dramatic and fantastic elements, gloomy story, mysterious atmosphere, stunning settings and strong acting performances, then this film is worthy of your money, support and time.

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